Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat. A person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking.
At my first programming job I used to regularly get up and do walking laps in the halls around the building, or in the parking lot. I’m sure a lot of people noticed and thought I was weird. I never saw anyone else doing it.
I honestly don’t know how they or anyone else gets any work done without frequent motion. A typical RubyTapas episode incorporates several hours-worth of pacing around, composing examples and working out phrasing in my head. Same goes for any blog post. Every non-trivial bit of code design, refactoring, or debugging I’ve ever produced had its origin in in vigorous pacing.
It has become reflexive with me – I don’t even notice I’m getting up to think on my feet until I’m halfway across the room. One of my favorite aspects of remote pairing is that I can put a headset on and pace all over the room while still chatting with my pair. One reason I like working at a standing desk is that the barrier to walking is that much lower.
Forget open spaces vs. individual offices – is your office layout and culture conducive to walking?